In January, we published “Diversity in Recent Leadership Positions,” which highlighted the recent accomplishments and honors of Leon L. Haley Jr., MD, MHSA, FACEP, CPE, Marcus L. Martin, MD, FACEP, and Lynne D. Richardson, MD, FACEP. Dr. Haley, Dr. Martin, and Dr. Richardson have landed roles that reach way beyond emergency medicine alone. Announcements are one thing, but how great leaders achieve success is quite another. The road to leadership is shaped by many experiences and many people, both positive and not so positive. In an interview with ACEP Now’s Medical Editor in Chief Kevin Klauer, DO, EJD, FACEP, these three emergency medicine icons talk about their career paths, influences, and experiences. Here is Part 2 of that conversation; Part 1 appeared in the November issue.
KK: It seems like being first sometimes has additional challenges because you are breaking down barriers while also trying to do your job. Would that be a fair statement?
MM: I agree 100 percent. It’s isolation; often we’re singled out, easily seen, placed under the microscope. Higher expectations are demanded of us. But we don’t have time to cry or to fold or to appear weak. We have to rely on our inner strengths. In my case, I’ve always relied on having conversations with my wife when I go home, and I try to make sure that I’ve built consensus with as many of the faculty, students, and staff.
LH: I think all of us, in many respects, embrace being first because somebody had to be first to help get us where we are, but at the same time, there are those unique challenges. There’s the “under the gun,” the high expectations. There’s the feeling that you’re carrying the weight of people on your back. I think those are unique challenges that the average, quite frankly, white male doesn’t have to carry into a role.
KK: Do we think we’ve lost good leaders because of this?
LR: Absolutely. I think one of the most heinous consequences of the disparities in opportunities that still exist in this country is the loss of talent and all of the leaders, scientists, and researchers who never get the chance to make the kind of contributions we’ve been able to make because they aren’t strong enough or don’t get the support they need to overcome the barriers that all of us have faced. I know I can speak certainly for Marcus and Leon in saying all of us are very focused on spending a lot of time and energy in making it easier for the ones coming behind us than it was for us.